The Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism Monday for revealing the New York Police Department's widespread spying on Muslims, while The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., and a 24-year-old reporter captured the award for local reporting for breaking the Penn State scandal that ultimately brought down Joe Paterno.
In a reflection of the forces reshaping the media world, the turmoil-ridden Philadelphia Inquirer won in the public service category for exposing pervasive violence in the city's schools, while David Wood earned a Pulitzer in national reporting for a relative newcomer, The Huffington Post, for stories about the suffering endured by American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was only the second Pulitzer ever awarded for reporting that appeared online only.
The New York Times won two prizes. David Kocieniewski was honored in the explanatory reporting category for a series on how wealthy people and corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes. And Jeffrey Gettleman received the award for international reporting for his coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa.
Sig Gissler, administrator of the prizes, said the winners in this year's 96th annual competition show that journalism is still a "vibrant force" as a watchdog for the public.
The AP's series of stories showed how New York police, with the help of a CIA official, created an aggressive surveillance program to gather intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods, businesses and houses of worship. It was the 50th Pulitzer won by the news cooperative.
The articles showed that police systematically listened in on sermons, hung out at cafes and other public places, infiltrated colleges and photographed people as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Individuals and groups were monitored even when there was no evidence they were linked to terrorism.
The stories prompted protests, a demand from 34 members of Congress for a federal investigation, and an internal inquiry by the CIA's inspector general. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the program as a thoroughly legal tool for keeping the city safe.
The judges declined to award a prize for editorial writing.
At The Patriot-News, Sara Ganim, a police and courts reporter, won for "courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State child sex scandal," the Pulitzer judges wrote.